Sports

Abrams scores 29 as No. 12 Illinois hangs on to beat Auburn 81-79

  • Auburn guard Chris Denson, center, goes up for a shot as Illinois' Brandon Paul, left, and Nnanna Egwu, right, defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Auburn guard Chris Denson, center, goes up for a shot as Illinois' Brandon Paul, left, and Nnanna Egwu, right, defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Illinois guard Brandon Paul, right, shoots against Auburn guard Frankie Sullivan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Illinois guard Brandon Paul, right, shoots against Auburn guard Frankie Sullivan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Auburn center Rob Chubb, right, battles for a rebound with Illinois forward Nnanna Egwu during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Auburn center Rob Chubb, right, battles for a rebound with Illinois forward Nnanna Egwu during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)  (The Associated Press)

Tracy Abrams scored a career-high 29 points and No. 12 Illinois beat Auburn 81-79 on Saturday.

The Illini (13-1) saw an 11-point lead shrink to one in the closing minutes but they prevailed after falling to Missouri in the Braggin' Rights game a week earlier — their first loss under coach John Groce.

Things got real tense when Frankie Sullivan buried a 3 for Auburn (5-7) to make it 68-67 with 4:29 remaining. Illinois then hit 13 of 18 free throws the rest of the way for a rare win at the United Center, where they had dropped three straight and five of six after winning 18 in a row.